The prospects of survivors of a Florida high-rise recovering diminished with each passing hour today, two full days after the 12-storey apartment collapsed while many residents slept.
However, search and rescue teams worked around the clock through an uneasy mountain of debris, searching for signs of life for any of the 159 people still missing, while raging flames filled the air with smoke.
The death toll of four was sure to rise with one floor of the tall building rising above another like pancakes.
With the help of dogs, cameras, sonar and heavy equipment, rescuers searched for any spaces that might have formed in the wreckage, leaving any potential survivors with air to breathe.
“We have hope because that’s what our search and rescue team is telling us, they have hope,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava said at a news conference yesterday.
Alan Kominsky, Miami-Dade Fire Chief, told reporters that rescue operations would continue through the night.
Ms Levin Kava said that while local officials provided assistance and comfort to families, such as hotel rooms and dining, search and rescue specialists worked at the disaster site in rotation, with a limited number allowed at any time to prevent further collapse. .
Teams from Mexico and Israel have arrived to help relief local crews, many of whom have also traveled to disaster sites around the world.
On top of the pile, some hammers and shovels were used looking for signs of life. Heavy equipment scraped the top layer.
Officials said that rescuers who got underground through the parking garage risked their lives searching for survivors, sometimes encountering falling debris.
Andy Alvarez, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Team leader, noted that his team pulled a girl out of earthquake wreckage in Haiti after eight days of rescue efforts.
“You must have hope. We are doing everything we can to get your family members alive,” Mr. Alvarez told CNN’s missing loved ones, paused.